Okay, that’s enough procrastinating – you say.
It’s time to rip off the band-aid and start taking my health & fitness more seriously.
I too have been there.
Except when I first wanted to start seriously thinking about joining a local gym, I felt like I had far more questions than answers.
Perhaps you’re facing the same dilemma.
You have no idea what’s important to know or consider before joining the gym in order to make the ‘right choice’.
Before you join a gym, you should consider:
- That the gym doesn’t solve your problems, only you do
- Whether the gym will help you achieve your goals
- What type of gym environment will suit you
- Whether the gym rates & sign-up fees are in your budget
- How close the gym is to you & any time constraints you have
You should also know about:
- Medical Certificates / Doctors Clearance
- The signup process & membership consultants
- What you need to bring & remember
- What to expect on your first visit
Taking some time to think about all of these factors will help you know whether the gym is the right choice for you and if so, which gym will suit your needs best.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
What to Consider Before Joining the Gym
The Gym Doesn’t Solve your Problems, Only You Do!
It’s important to remember that the gym doesn’t solve your problems – only you do.
Many people think that once they join the gym, they’ll easily transform into the ripped or toned specimen they’ve been dreaming about.
The pretty pictures and videos on the website sometimes make the gym out to be a place full of beautiful people, happy smiles, and easily-acquired transformations.
The reality is that the gym is hard work and requires consistent effort and sometimes it doesn’t look or feel pretty.
Here’s the bottom line – if you’re joining the gym hoping that the gym alone will get you the results you want, you might be dissapointed.
A gym is merely a tool that can help you get to where you want to go, it’s not the be-all and end-all.
This is very important to think about before joining the gym.
Are you willing to make some sacrifices? Are you willing to put in the work and keep showing up?
Before you start any new or unfamiliar journey, what’s the first thing you do?
Google Map the destination to figure out how to get there – of course!
Setting goals for your health & fitness journey is a must because it helps you figure out where you want to go, how long it’s going to take you, and what steps you need to take to get there.
If you don’t know your goals, you won’t know whether the gym is what you need to get there.
At the end of the day, a gym isn’t the whole answer and it doesn’t immediately solve your problems.
There’s actually a lot that you can do from home before you ever need to join a gym.
In fact, some people find that they can achieve the body, fitness & strength they want from just completing home workouts with minimal equipment.
In saying this, here are some reasons why it might be a good idea to join the gym.
- You need extra equipment to continue to challenge yourself
- You need the motivation of other members around you to help you stay consistent
- You need the financial accountability of the gym in order to get up on those cold, early mornings
- You want to get the help of the trainers or instructors to help build up your confidence
- You want access to group classes as you love the atmosphere and fellowship
If you see the gym as a pivotal and necessary part of getting you to where you want to go (your goals), then go for it.
The next step is assessing the type of gym environment that’s going to suit your situation and personality.
Picking the right type of gym is important, as it can help you enjoy the experience far more and again, will help you to achieve your goals.
Broadly speaking, here are the three different types of gyms:
Here, you can have free reign over the gym equipment to train how you please.
This is the cheapest of the three options because much of your programming and motivation you have to come up with yourself. Therefore, this is a great option if you’re very independent and like to do your own thing.
This option is often 24/7, meaning you can workout whenever you like. Examples of these gyms are Anytime Fitness, Snap Fitness & Jetts.
(Functional) Group Fitness Gyms
In group classes, trainers will run a session for 10-25 people to complete. Most often these are high energy, engaging, and can be a social experience.
Group classes are cheaper than personal training but more expensive than general access.
This is because you get the attention and planning of the trainer, but sacrifice the level of personal care by sharing your training time with a large group.
These type of gyms are becoming a lot more common these days – you may have seen independent ones opening up in your local area. Examples of these facilities are F45, Body Fit Training, and CrossFit-style gyms.
Hybrid gyms are a combination of both general access and group fitness.
These are a good option if you want the independence of a general access membership, but also want to take part in some classes from time to time.
Examples of these gyms are Genesis Fitness, Fitness First and Goodlife.
Personal Training or Small Group Training
Here, you meet with a trainer and they help you plan, structure, and implement your workouts each week.
This is typically the most expensive of the three as you get the most personal attention.
You can find personal training in any of the previously mentioned gym options. Almost all gyms offer it.
The next thing to consider before joining the gym is the cost.
Notice how we listed this fourth, not first.
Cost should not be the first thing you consider when joining the gym.
In fact, you might end up wasting time, energy and money if you jump from gym to gym, or stop going because you didn’t get the first three steps right and hated it.
Here’s a general guide for how much different types of gyms cost:
|General Access||$10 – $20 a week|
|Hybrid||$15 – $30 a week|
|(Functional) Group Fitness||$50 – $70 a week|
|Personal Training||$40 – $70 per 60-minute session|
Furthermore, it’s important to think about signup fees, which can vary between $50 – $100 depending on the gym type and how long you’re signing up for.
Generally speaking, if you commit for longer, the signup fees will be less or even waived altogether.
Location & Time Considerations
It’s important to consider how much time you have in your week to commit to a gym membership.
If you’ve already got your hands tied up with work, kids, family, and friends, think about where in your day you might be able to afford a trip to the gym.
The reality is that a trip to the gym can take anywhere between 60 – 90 minutes – which includes commuting, parking and getting set up. If you’re working out multiple times per week, the time really starts to add up.
Therefore, working out locally – no more than 5 or 10 minutes away from your house – can help your gym routine stick.
Other Important Things to Know About Before Joining the Gym
It’s not only important to think deeply about the aforementioned factors, but there are also a few things to be prepared for when you’ve decided on a gym and are ready to pay your first visit.
This can help you to go in feeling more prepared and informed.
Medical / Doctors Certificates
It’s also important to remember that in some instances, you may need a medical certificate or clearance from your doctor in order to get started at the gym.
A good idea is to call up the gym you’re hoping to join beforehand to ask them about their medical policies, as some are stricter than others.
In the past, I’ve worked at gyms and had to send brand new members to their doctors due to high blood pressure readings.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not fit to exercise – it’s more that the gym wants to cover their ass legally and needs this clearance.
Membership Consultants & The Signup Process
Where do I go? Who will I speak to? Are they friendly? Do I bring my workout gear with me?
The thought of stepping foot in a gym for the first time can seem scary – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Getting started at the gym is actually pretty damn simple if you go in feeling confident and prepared.
Membership (Sales) Consultants
It’s important to be aware that most of the time, when you make contact with a gym – whether by email, phone, social media or in-person – the staff (also known as membership consultants) are pretty eager to sign you up.
This can be a good or bad thing.
It’s good because sometimes it’s the motivational push we need to make this aspiration a reality.
However, it can be bad when staff become too pushy or use ‘guilt-tripping’ or sales tactics to push you into a poor decision.
This is why it’s really important to have done your research beforehand and to know what questions you want to ask.
We suggest shopping around online for different gyms in your area, making some calls, or even trialing a few of your favorites before you commit to signing up to one gym.
If a staff member tries to convince you they’re offering you an unbeatable price that’s only available today, it’s definitely not true. You can always take some time to think about it and make a final decision at a later date.
The Signup Process
The signup process can either be done on the same day you want to start working out or not – it’s really up to you.
When signing up, it’s important to think about any questions you might have, such as:
- When is the gym typically busiest and quietest?
- Do you offer personal training and how does it work?
- Do you offer introductory sessions, and can you design and walk me through a program?
- What are all the costs involved in this membership?
- Is there a contract I can look over before I sign up?
During the signup process, you’ll also go through a number of other things, such as:
- A tour of the facility and an explanation of the services
- Initial screening to assess your current physical fitness
- Some memberships will give you access to an introductory personal training session
- And finally, sigining the contract!
When joining a gym, it’s important to be aware of gym contracts.
This is perhaps the ‘scary’ aspect of joining the gym for many people. We all have that one friend that had their bank account drained from an ongoing direct debit nightmare.
Yes, contracts can be a hassle and many gyms can be a little ‘sneaky’ with how they sell you a membership.
Our advice is to always have a thorough read of the contract before you sign up.
And just a word of wisdom: In our experience, a cheaper weekly rate is not always best. Gyms usually offer a cheaper rate because they’re locking you into a longer contract with cancellation fees.
There’s no point trying to shave $1 or $2 of your weekly fee if you’re having to sacrifice flexibility.
What you Need to Bring
So, you know how you sign up, you’ve signed your contract, but what should you remember to bring to the gym for your first session?
Here’s what you need to bring:
- Gym Entry Tag
- Comfortable light clothing
- Your best pair of runners
- Water Bottle
- A small snack for after to kick start your recovery (muesli bar)
What to Expect on your First Visit
It’s important to remember that the gym can feel unfamiliar and intimidating for the first few days or weeks upon getting started.
You might ask yourself one or more of the following questions:
- What is the right technique for this exercise?
- Why does it feel like everyone is looking at me?
- Do I look silly or ridiculous on this machine?
- Where is ________ machine?
- What workout/exercises should I do?
- Why does that person look so much more __________ than me?
This is not an exhaustive list – there are a countless number of questions you may be asking or things you feel worried about.
It’s okay – everyone goes through this. Don’t let these thoughts worry you!
Over time, your strength, fitness and ultimately – gym confidence – will grow.
Before you know it, you’ll be navigating the gym floor without a worry in the world, tackling each workout with no fear!
The Next Steps
It’s important to think deeply before jumping right into a gym membership.
Use this guide to help you understand the questions you should be asking yourself and the gym you’re hoping to join – before you sign that contract.
At Get Gym Fit, we want to help you join a gym you love and keep coming back to.
Feel free to check out our gym reviews in different suburbs (see the menu at the top of the page) to find a facility that’s the right fit for you wherever you live.